Steamboat woman sentenced in marijuana case
Jensen will get 30 days in jail or treatment facility, probation
February 24, 2010
Steamboat Springs — A Steamboat Springs woman who was charged with cultivation of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute, as well as possession of psychedelic mushrooms, was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in jail or a treatment facility and 150 hours of public service.
Marie Jensen, 55, was arrested after an investigation of an underage drinking party Feb. 7, 2009, revealed marijuana at her Old Town home.
Jensen also will have to pay $3,394.45 in fines and costs and have two years of probation. She also will have final judgment deferred for two years, meaning that if she completes all the terms of her probation and pays all fines and costs, the case could be dismissed in 2012.
At the time of the search, investigators said they found about 50 marijuana plants and about 8 pounds of processed marijuana at the home.
Initially charged with five felonies, Jensen pleaded guilty to only possession of more than a gram of marijuana, a Class 3 felony.
Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle said the plea agreement was created, and the other charges were dropped because there were questions about the search of Jensen's house.
He said the police did not do anything specifically wrong but that in reviewing the case, there were issues the District Attorney's Office did not want to take to court.
"I think this is a reasonable disposition, and obviously the judge agreed" because she accepted the agreement, he said.
Steamboat Springs police Capt. Joel Rae said he did not know what issues would have caused a problem.
"I certainly think it was a good search," he said.
He said that an underage girl was found urinating in public and admitted to drinking alcohol at a party with no adults. Rae said the girl took officers to the house, where they knocked and were admitted by a member of the house.
"I think everything was handled appropriately. Every underage person's parents were called, and they were there with officers until their parents physically picked them up from the scene, and officers stayed at the house until a search warrant was obtained," he said. "When you're invited in by a resident of the home, it's clear you have a right to be there."
Police also cited 17 underage drinkers at the party.
Jensen's attorney, Erick Knaus, spent much of the sentencing hearing trying to persuade District Judge Shelley Hill to allow Jensen to use her medical marijuana license during her probation.
Knaus said Jensen has had a license for more than five years and uses it for a variety of ailments, including chronic pain caused by a fused neck vertebrae.
Hill said it was her policy to not allow medical marijuana by people on probation because it is a privilege and does not have prescribed doses, as other medications do, and because it violates federal law.
She said that especially because this was a drug-related case, she would not allow Jensen's continued use of marijuana.
Before the sentence was announced, Jensen apologized to the court and her family. She also said she thought the law allowed her to have as much medical marijuana as was necessary, even if that exceeded the standard six plants.
Hill said that because Jensen had pleaded guilty, she was not evaluating the merits of the case or the amount of marijuana she possessed.
"I only say that you abused your privilege (to use medical marijuana) because you stand before me as a convicted person," Hill said.
Jensen's husband, David, also initially was charged in the case, but all charges against him were later dismissed.
Jensen declined to comment about the case after the hearing.
— To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com